Written By Five Arrows
In retrospect, I always knew I was queer, different than others, something that I have to hide from everybody around me. Then why did I first come out when I was 21, not sooner? Why did it never occur to me that there are people who I can trust with my big secret? Perhaps I didn’t trust them – yes, that seems like the only conclusion we can all arrive at. Interestingly, trust was never the main deciding factor.
How can I tell others my truth when I wasn’t even sure that was my truth?
Nothing becomes true on its own until you accept it to be. And this applies to your sexual and gender identity as well. If you are not sure what it is, and not comfortable with it, there’s no point in telling others about it. And this side of coming out is what I want to talk about today. Like I said, I always knew I was queer, but I never acknowledged it. I never told myself “I’m gay”, I just knew I wasn’t into girls as everybody was and, simultaneously, the way they expected me to be. And so, whatever I was, my instincts told me I couldn’t disclose it, especially to others, not even to myself.
For a long time, I tried to become like everybody around me: “normal”. Part of me was sure that I could never survive being how I was, and so the rest of me always tried to change myself. I was different, and I shouldn’t be. I should be like others, liking the opposite sex not the same one. I was different, but I needed to be the same as others. I was queer, strange, and I needed to be ideal.
Did I succeed in doing so? Ironically, like a lot of my endeavors, even those in the right directions, this one also failed. I couldn’t make myself like girls the way I was expected to be. I even tried to sexualize them. I told my friends to find me a girlfriend, because finding one myself was just not possible. Luckily enough, they never got around to do that, or I would have made a girl’s life miserable. And this is something I was sure I was going to end up doing, as I knew that I had no way out of marrying a girl in the end. My society demanded it, my parents demanded it, my survival instincts demanded it. One more reason added to the plethora of reasons that made me feel desolate day and night.
I can’t tell you how it happened, whether it was out of sheer hopelessness or downright bravery, but I came around. Suddenly I could tell myself, I am what I am, and there’s no changing that. But I still could not say “I’m gay”. At least, I knew I was gay, and somewhat comfortable about it. And this is that milestone of a moment when I decided that I was going to come out to two of my best friends.
After I came out, one of them kept badgering me for months, asking relentlessly why I didn’t tell them earlier. Why why why why? I gave them many reasons which at that time I believed were true. They were true, but only partly. It’s unfortunate that they were more worried about them learning about my sexuality so late, and less about me. Maybe if they had asked what I was going through, I could have reflected upon myself and found out all that you’re reading about now. I thought I wasn’t ready to tell them, when in truth I wasn’t ready to tell myself. I feared that if I accepted the strangeness in me, there’d be no going back. Isn’t it funny that there was no going back to begin with, that being born in this geographical location I was doomed from the moment I was born? Funny indeed.
I took a leap of faith, so to speak, not with them but with myself. I’m calling it a leap, because the exact thought process is still very unclear to me. But I’m sure about the conclusion of that leap: I accepted myself, partly. I accepted my truth enough to tell it to others. I accepted my reality enough to start carrying it with me everywhere I went – still as a knife that could cut me, but also as a knife that I could hold without worrying about its edge. With time, the knife has become a part of me, and its edge is slowly losing its sharpness. Hopefully, someday it will completely stop wounding me.
After almost 4 years of coming out to those two, I’ve come to realize how important it was for me and what it truly means to an individual living in this country. My truth stopped becoming an object of fear, and that is why I could lay it out in front of others. It still took me a long time to speak out and say to myself, “I’m gay”. But at least, I knew that it wasn’t something truly impossible.
Looking back, in all those moments when I tried not to be gay, I knew it was in vain. I knew I wouldn’t succeed, and that’s probably why I never tried wholeheartedly, so to speak. I knew failure was inevitable, and actually always looked forward to it. But I was too scared to admit it. If I hadn’t accepted myself the little bit that I did, I would never have been able to truly come out. Yes, maybe I could have told others, but it’d have been like a time bomb without a timer. It’d have simply been words that may have been apparently about me but never about myself. It’d have just been me telling them, never actually coming out to them. Because, coming out means to come out with your true self, not the self that you want to keep buried and hope would die eventually. Coming out should feel like freeing yourself, which is how it was for me. Coming out means being able to spread your wings for the sole purpose of flying, and not just about showing others your wings. Because when you fly, it’s you who is carrying you. If you can’t come out to yourself, there’s no point in coming out to others.
All those who have come out, they have all gone through the process of self-acceptance. But like me, many are probably not aware of this. An important reason why we as a queer community should be aware of this aspect of coming out is to be able to give strength to all those who are still fighting with their selves. They need to know that their truth solely belongs to them, others who may or may not be queer, are only privy to it when they (the ones who are still fighting) are comfortable with it. In fact, as long as you are able to come out to yourself, it doesn’t matter whether you tell others or not.
Five Arrows is an English Literature Major, whose pronouns are he/him. However, he likes to call himself queer when it comes to both his sexuality and gender identity. In his free time, he either daydreams or writes, reads, listens to music and watches anime. He also has a passion for photography and baking.
The writer’s feelings, experiences, and opinions are entirely their own. This text cannot be republished without permission from Mondro. All reviews and opinions on this article are accepted, please leave them below.
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This is so raw and beautiful. I wish you the smile of a thousand stars, five arrows.